Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Academic Dual Labor Markets

Most PhD's do not publish much if anything. If they expect a job at a research university, it won't happen. If they expect a teaching job, with little or no research demanded, the competition is quite fierce.

Yes, there surely is dualization, with adjuncts etc, vs. those with tenure track positions. Always has been from what I have read of the 30s, 40s, and early 50s in the US. There was a period when the demand for PhD holders to become professors was comparable to supply, in the US, about late-1950s-1970 or so. The history in Germany, 1870 to at least WWII and probably until 1970, was a very long period in one's career of not becoming a professor. Few such jobs, actually.

My advice to those who find themselves dual'ed out is to find another career. In fact, all doctoral students should think about careers other than being professors. Research in organizations and government, ...  It would be good if more students decided not to become doctoral candidates early on, at least if they expected to become professors at universities peer to their doctoral institution. Surely we would lose some great future scholars, but not many. 

When I was 40 (1984), I decided to look elsewhere. Foundations, journalism,...  The joke was that when I went to one foundation looking for a job, they ended up giving me a grant.

The call I received in 1984 to teach at USC for a semester was going to be a lovely interlude (I liked LA), and then I was going to move on.
Yes, I had a tenure track job at MN from 1974-1980, but by 1978 I knew this was not the place for me, and since nothing came along, I went off to the National Humanities Center in 1978 without much of a sense of what next. When I went to MIT to visit in 1980, it was for a semester, and I planned to move on. That it became a 4 year visit, with grants etc, was fortunate but not a solution. 

If nothing had developed at USC, and it surely was not in prospect when I arrived to teach for a semester in 1984, I would have moved on.  I was appointed for Fall 1985 in a tenure-track position as a untenured associate professor (it turned out to be long-term), but at that point I had published a book, had lots of published articles, major fellowships, etc.  My track record was not enough to get me tenure, albeit most faculty at most institutions receive tenure with less deep research achievements and honors

Note that for most of 1968-1985, I almost always had a full time job, usually grants, fellowship, teaching, post doc, so in no sense was I pecuniarily dualized. And I did have a tenure track job at MN and gave it up, which at 36 makes no sense, but that is what I did.

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